McGuigan's patience of Job jab at the Prince

"WELL, you would need to have the patience of Job for him not to get to you, he'd get to anyone after a while," said Barry McGuigan…

"WELL, you would need to have the patience of Job for him not to get to you, he'd get to anyone after a while," said Barry McGuigan on Sky Sports on Saturday evening. "He's continually annoying you and annoying you."

Barry was talking about Prince Naseem Hamed but after his week-long hyping of the pay-per-view "24 hour boxing blitz" - the Night of Champions - he could have been describing Sky's boxing presenter, Paul Dempsey.

Just about every time you switched on Sky Sports last week, Paul was hard-selling on the screen. "So, just to remind you, live from Las Vegas, Lennox Lewis against Oliver McCall - one of five World Title fights in just 24 hours on Sky Box Office ... for information on this special pay-per-view event call 0990 800 888," he told us over and over again.

"One final reminder about a weekend of boxing we're all terribly excited about," he would add in case we missed the first 874 reminders. "Ring 0990 800 888 for more information," he'd say as if we needed to be reminded of a telephone number we now knew better than our own.

On Wednesday night Channel Four's late-night sports programme, Under the Moon, discussed the issue of pay-per-view television with Hamed's brother and business manager Riath and former world champion Duke McKenzie, who is now part of Sky's boxing team. The many callers to the programme who were unhappy with being asked to fork out another £9.99, on top of Sky Sports' subscription fee, to see the fights got very little sympathy from either Riath or Duke.

"At the end of the day it's a business decision. It's a money motivated sport so obviously you go with the highest bidder. We live in a capitalist society where money talks and it applies in every walk of life. It's something the British public will have to get used to, it's a bit sad but, at the end of the day, that's reality and that's capitalism," said Riath.

Duke was in full agreement with this "on yer bike" philosophy. "It might be a little bit unfair but it's your choice whether you want to follow it now or not," he said to one of the callers. "You can always read about it," he added. (Right hook. Left upper cut. Jab. Jab. Gum shield gone. Left hook. Gadunk. He's on the canvas. Na, it's not quite the same Duke).

The other issue up for discussion on Under the Moon was the charming personality of Hamed. A number of callers rang in to complain that he showed no respect to his opponents. "That's not true, he never slags them off in a negative way," said Riath, without smiling, while fellow boxer Mickey Cantwell also defended Hamed's reputation on Tuesday's Night of the Champions preview on Sky. "I think personally he's a fresh of breath air," he declared.

The Coca Cola corporation may be tempted to switch to boxing and end their involvement in football after the season they've had. First of all their footie flagship, the English League Cup, lost all its glam teams in the early rounds and is now heading for a Wimbledon v Stockport final . .. hardly the glamour clash of the giants Coke's execs were hoping for.

To add insult to their injured marketing strategy one of their bottles caused the abandonment of the Co Ant rim Shield Final on Tuesday night which Sportsnight, on BBC Northern Ireland, kindly shared with us.

Referee Alan Snoddy called a halt to the match between Cliftonville and Ballymena United when a Coca Cola bottle, containing a mysterious yellowy-green liquid, was thrown by a spectator and landed on one of the linesmen (who was probably more concerned about the contents of the bottle than the bottle itself).

As if that wasn't bad enough the linesman was standing right beside a "Pepsi - Change the Colour" advertising board which meant every time the incident was replayed on telly Pepsi, Coca Cola's close friends, got a free plug.

Hersey's Candy Company did some advertising of their own during the half-time entertainment at the NFL Pro Bowl last week but it didn't come free. When New York banker Lance Alstadt kicked a 35-yard field goal Hersey's, who sponsored the competition, had to hand over a cheque for $1 million.

Sky Sports Centre told us about Lance's good fortune on Tuesday but the night before, on the CBS News, intrepid reporter Harry Smith had tracked down the man, New York City police officer Michael Bollino, who received a mingy $5,000 consolation prize from Hersey's for falling 13 yards short of the target last year.

Michael, however, put the $5,000 to very good use - he and his wife Roseena, who had been unsuccessfully trying for a baby for five years, invested the loot in fertility treatment and before you could say Mandy Allot, Roseena was expecting triplets.

Sadly, when Harry caught up with Michael he had that "oh-oh-I'm-in-big-trouble" look about him. Before Roseena entered hospital seven weeks ago, where she is still waiting patiently for the litter to arrive, she gave Michael strict instructions - "do something about our half-built home before I get out of hospital or you're dead meat". The house is still in a shambles and Roseena is due home any day.

"Who do you feel is luckier - the guy who won the million dollars on Sunday or you," asked Harry, dangerously. Michael lied. "I am much luckier," he said, as he nervously tried to guess how Roseena and the triplets would react when they came in the front door and discovered that, well, the front door was the only renovated part of the entire house.

Still, Harry and anchor-man Dan Rather thought it was a beautiful story. "His kick was short by a mile but it went a long way towards ... happiness," said Harry. "That's part of our world ... tonight," whispered a close-to-tears Dan back in the studio. Yes, beautiful. (Good luck Michael).

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times